Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A child, a challenge, a chance

My new son talks about half as much as Clint Eastwood does, so it's hard to get inside his head.  A week or so ago, we were facing situations where he'd just dig in his heels (more precisely, lower his head) and just refuse to do something we thought he should do.  It was then that I started reading child parenting books, as much for encouragement and motivation as for any advice.

This week feels different.  Very different.  I've been giving him responsibility mixed in with increasing amounts of freedom, and he's become almost obsessed with cleaning, creating, fixing.  As I mentioned yesterday, C-son "has lately been on a one-man mission to be as ultra-productive as possible".  Our home and garden are looking better and better each day, and I am almost worried I'll run out of projects for him.   I'm tempted to play shrink:  is he marking this space as his own?  Is he trying to take over, even?

Chores in the morning are going better than expected.  The  base of pear tree I asked him to weed now looks like this.
He pulled and cut weeds for two days.  Aided and abetted by his brother-turned-disciple J-son, he put down newspapers and mulch.  He dug some 2-by-4s out of my garage to edge the space.  (I was sort of saving those 2-by-4s for something else, but I did not object.)  He swept the walk when he was done.

This same attention to detail showed when he cleaned out a "guest room", last lived-in by my daughters before they went to college years ago.  He packed up stuff.  He vacuumed.  He dusted.  He cleaned the woodwork.  He drew intricate floor plans and rearranged all the furniture.  It looks lovely.

His grand obsession, though, has been the tree house.  He's spent about 6 or 7 hours a day -- from the time he's released from chores until we make him come in for dinner or bed -- up there for the last 5 days, drilling, sawing, nailing.  Sometimes his brothers "help" him.
 Much of the time he toils alone.
 His goal seems to be to build walls (with shelving I was saving for another project, but again, I bite the old tongue).  He also wants to build doors.  The technical aspects of adding a door have eluded him.
 Mostly.  Sometimes he gets close, as you can see in this picture below.
But the doors aren't really anchored to anything except the floor, and they keep coming off.  I suppose if I felt, as his brothers seem to feel, that the walls and the doors were the most important outcome, I could go in and help; teach him about framing out walls, about support and bracing.

But the truth is, he's so marvelously absorbed by his tinkering, and so completely not frustrated by lack of apparent progress, that I feel like it's the process that's the best outcome of all.  He gets to work with real tools, and real wood.  He doesn't want to be anywhere else but up in the air, puttering and pottering.  Building his home.  Or something.

1 comment:

  1. wow! I don't think I've ever seen the pear tree look so good! Tell C (and J and N) "Great job!" from me. :-)